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‘The Walking Dead’s’ Danai Gurira on Hollywood’s Diversity Problem: ‘You Have to Change a System’

Fiercely committed to broadening the international reach of African artists and the African story, “The Walking Dead” actress and “Eclipsed” playwright Danai Gurira pulls no punches when asked about the lack of diversity at the Oscars and throughout Hollywood.

See More: Hollywood Reacts to Academy’s Diversity Push

“My biggest question is: Is this new?” she says. “It’s amazing and unfortunate and frustrating that we’re still having this conversation. Something systemic has not shifted. We’re not retaining the idea that diversity is a strengthening thing, and it’s something that has to happen to enrich this industry. What’s new, I guess, is that (the Academy is) actually going into the structure and looking at what the system is. You have to change a system. Otherwise it’s just talk. The idea that the system is being examined and reformed is very hopeful.

“The thing that shocked me was when I heard a bunch of critics talking, and one person said, ‘Well listen, the problem is, the people who are the majority of the voters don’t watch most of these movies.’ And that floored me. You know how hard it is to make a film? And you’re not even going to pop it in your DVD player? I’d never even thought of that, and it really points to a serious dilemma we have that needs to be addressed. The reforms need to be complete, and they need to be thorough, because that cannot go on.”

 

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